The Comfort of Grits (Love in the Morning)

A taste of home

A taste of home

I woke up wanting grits this morning. I wasn’t necessarily hungry for food, but for the comforts of home in yesteryear. Daddy and Mom had a comfortable routine every morning when we were growing up. Both arose at the crack of dawn, and while she ran a warm bath to prepare for a day of teaching, he made his way to the kitchen, turned the radio on elevator music (which is where my love for Karen Carpenter originated), and began preparing a full breakfast for the three of his children before leaving the house for work.

His menu ranged from pancakes and warm syrup to chicken livers and grits….ummm, grits. I’ve since shared my Daddy’s “recipe” for smooth, creamy, tasty grits with numerous friends over the course of my moves and maneuverings as an adult. It’s the one thing I’ve turned to for calm and security on any given day. So on this particular morning, I’ve made my way downstairs, pulled out the right- sized pot for my delectable dish, poured the dry hominy, carefully and repeatedly rinsed it with water to remove the larger, pebbly grains that determine the texture of the final product, and then put it on the stove at medium-high. Seasoning includes a little salt, pepper, real butter, a dash of sugar, and maybe a little chicken stock—tasting along the way. Flashbacks of the various types of accompaniments we had—fish, hot dogs, bacon (even though Daddy didn’t eat pork—he later found beef bacon), chicken livers, or sausage—brought a smile to my face. Here today, though, it was either bacon, leftover fried catfish bites, or chicken apple sausage; Mal and I chose the latter.

As the hominy began to simmer and the bubbly sounds of the ground corn heating up and mixing with the liquids and seasonings took over the quiet of the kitchen, I said a little prayer of thanks for a Dad who never saw cooking as women’s work, and did it with pure love. He cooked things we could eat even though he couldn’t. He got up early enough to cook and have the meal ready and piping hot with a side of cold OJ by the time we sat down, and even roused us awake when it was time for us to prepare for breakfast before school.

To this day, I can eat breakfast food any time of the day. The memories fill me up and satiate my soul.

**Author’s note: Mom had her turn after school, with healthy dinners that were rarely fried, and always home-cooked.

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